Grace Seasoning

Edgy, sharp, cranky, churlish, frustrated. These adjectives can describe us at various times. Maybe you’re short on sleep. Maybe you’re stressed about money. Maybe you have a conflict with your spouse or friend. Maybe there’s a lot of pressure at work or school. Regardless of the reason, let’s be careful about our words & attitudes in these challenging times.
Here are some helpful ideas to keep our attitudes, actions & words seasoned with grace:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you
  • Chose self control over reactionary behavior
  • Take a 30second pause & look for stuff to be grateful for
  • Remember that we often prefer the consequences of grace rather than the outcomes of expressing frustration or crankiness 🙂

Can’t Find the Words

What to pray when you don’t know what to pray. Do you have those times when you’re lost for words?  Maybe life has just piled up too deep, the demands are too plenteous & the stresses seem infinite. Sometimes when we go through grief, words can seem mechanical or elusive.

When you don’t know what or how to pray, here’s a good suggestion:

Not LISTENING!!!

“I most certainly don’t want to hear THAT!” One of my kids said this to me a few days ago about a character flaw. We all have things that we don’t like or want to hear, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to hear these things.

Over the course of many years, I’ve had all kinds of feedback & input, some of which wasn’t kindly given & some of which was somewhere north of Jupiter, utter nonsense. However, I’m learning that negative feedback can often be more helpful than positive feedback, even when it’s given poorly or with unkind motives. We would be wise to remember that because our Heavenly Father loves us, He corrects & trains us not to be hurtful but rather to help us walk in the fullness of His design for us!
Remember Hebrews 12:5-6, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”

The Right No

We learn to say “no” at an early age often pigeonholed as the “terrible two’s”. While learning to say “no” is an important stage in our development, I think what’s even more important is the proper wisdom & discernment to use this word.

For example, saying an internal “no” to replying with a snarky comment to a rude flight attendant is good wisdom. Or saying no to the couch as an alternative to getting some daily exercise is also sound wisdom.
On the flip side, let’s make sure that our instinctive answer to anything the Holy Spirit ask of us is resoundingly YES!!

Speaking With Wisdom

Almost all of us have said things we wish we hadn’t. A few weeks back, I was passing through our church lobby & greeting various attendees & I shot off my mouth. I felt totally stupid & wish I could stuff those words back in my mouth. But of course, I can’t.
Here’s some wisdom my friend told me that I’ve employed & found to be immensely helpful. When speaking, consider these questions:

  1. Should this be said?
  2. Am I the person to say this?
  3. Is this the right time to say this?

Feel free to share this with your fiends & friends ,)

Change the Harvest

Last week I had a blinding flash of the obvious: we reap what we sow.

The brilliant part of this wisdom is that we often reap in fields that are different from where we sow. But no matter where we reap, the principle remains the same – we reap what we sow.
So what do you want? If you want something different than your current results perhaps it’s time to consider the seeds that you’re sowing. If you’re planting gossip, strife, belittling, condescension & insecurity, don’t be surprised when those show up in your life.
On the other hand, planting encouragement, stability, patience & other good seeds produce a harvest after its kind, across a wide array of fields!
Let’s be sure we are planting the seeds that we want to harvest!

Seasoning

One of my children was doing some cooking & attempting to make omelettes. This child enjoys garlic, so they put 1/4 cup of chopped garlic in the omelette & proceeded to eat it. For almost a week after this adventure, this person continued to reek of garlic, despite showers, baths & long hours in a swimming pool. It was a good lesson on the principle of moderation.
Using moderation is good in lots of applications. Here are some specific areas for daily living

  • Correction & Confrontation: when we need to have a sharp conversation, we would be wise to blend some sincere & gentle words into the discussion
  • Work & Rest: our personalities tend toward one extreme or the other, so we would be wise to build in some balance with our schedules & planning
    Proverbs 25:27a

Way Better!!

My husband & I use different routes for driving our kids to their various activities. Normally, I think my way is better: faster, less traffic, etc. Today, I see that I’m wrong. The route he uses is far superior to my way & I could’ve learned this much sooner had I not been so obstinate.

This seems to ring true between the Holy Spirit & me as well. How many times have I stayed glued to my methods & plans only to learn the hard way that the Holy Spirit always has better ways than me. Let’s live in the reality of Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s ways are always the upgrade!!

Find Some Fun!

Do you like otters?  They seem to be a party wherever they go with lots of humor, energy and a playfull mindset!  I’ve always enjoyed watching them, maybe because I bend toward a serious nature & the contrast is refreshing!

Otters remind me that there’s a playful side to wisdom, from Proverbs 8:30-31.  In these verses, you can also replace the word rejoice with the word play since the word in Hebrew is used both ways:

Then I [Wisdom] was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.

Sometimes we would be wise to lighten up and be a little playful!  Here’s a joke that could help:

What’s the one vegetable Noah refused to bring on the ark?

Leaks 🙂

Broken Trust

Everyone has experienced the pain that comes from broken trust – it’s the pits. I’ve been reading about King David in 2Samuel & how he was betrayed by his son, Absalom. On top of Davids son breaking his trust, Davids main counselor, Ahithophel defected to Absalom to advise him – a double whammy.

So what to do with broken trust?
Some key takeaways would be:

  • Forgiveness – this is a non-negotiable
  • Destination – don’t get quagmired in the pain, look forward & keep going; David didn’t hang around to wallow in the betrayal
  • Friendships – just because someone betrays be careful that you don’t pull away from everyone; David’s friend Hushai was essential to helping David stay alive!

Redeeming Messups!

I’ve been reading about King David in 2 Samuel lately & this morning I was struck by the severity of his shortfall with Bathsheba.  There are a boatload of things he did wrong in that scenario:

  • should’ve been out fighting with Joab, but he stayed home
  • secretly watched a naked woman bathing
  • continued his interest in her by inquiring her name
  • brought her to his palace
  • slept with her, knowing she was married
  • tricked Uriah, her husband
  • sent Uriah to be killed in battle

Bathsheba became pregnant after sleeping with David, their son was born sick and died after seven days.  This story is an epic tragedy full of death, pain, suffering, selfishness, deception and loads more!  It seems to me that nothing good could come out this whole mess, ever, never and in no way.

Enter Solomon.

Solomon was considered one of Israel’s greatest kings!  He built the temple in Jerusalem, wrote two books of the Bible and was one of the wisest men who ever lived.  Solomon was the son of Bathsheba and King David, after the baby died who was conceived from David’s sin.

Let’s remember that there’s no weakness or failure in our lives that God cannot redeem & make into something entirely glorious!

Compensating for Stupid

There’s a chick in the Bible whom I admire greatly, Abigail. I like her because she’s wise, resourceful, humble & honest. She married an idiot, Nabal, whose name means fool & he personified his name to the maximum. I think that maybe Abigail was in Nabal’s life as God’s invitation for him to change, but Nabal refused this invitation & paid for it by living a short & fruitless life. In contrast, because Abigail made different decisions, she wound up becoming one of King Davids wives & lived a fulfilling life.
The pivot point for Abigail came from one of Nabal’s notoriously stupid decisions. Abigail compensated for Nabal, interceded with David for Nabal’s life & this positioned her for a huge upgrade.
Usually, I want to run as far away from stupid as I possibly can, hoping it’s no contagious. But Abigail made wise decisions by being respectful, humble & generous.
Just because there are stupid people in our lives doesn’t mean that we need to be stupid with them! Let’s be sure that we counteract the stupid around us with respect & wisdom!

What’s Important???

Tonight is the final game of the World Series – the annual culmination of the baseball season in the US. The Cleveland Indians & the Chicago Cubs haven’t competed in the World Series for more than 60 years each & the series has been a nail biter to be sure! If you can’t tell, I’m UBER excited about this game tonight, but alas I won’t be watching the majority of it because we have church tonight & I’m scheduled to preach.
I’m not writing this to get your sympathy but rather to talk about what’s important. If the truth is known, I’m a really big sports person & I love watching almost every sport. But in the grand scheme of important priorities, sports don’t really carry eternal significance. For that matter, I seriously wonder if many of the things that we stress over, goals that we work towards & stuff that we spend time on, I wonder if many of these things really have any bearing on eternity.
Let’s be careful that the things we deem as important & worthy of our attention / energy are really the important things with lasting impact!

Fuel

I have a friend who often forgets to put gas in her car, so it’s not shocking that she runs out of fuel from time to time. We put fuel in our cars to help us get from point A to point B & the same principle applies to the journey of life. We do the things to give us what we need for our journey. But alas, even with our best planning, sometimes the journey can exceed our fuel plans. And there’s always the unexpected hiccups that take some extra energy. Then what?

Last week in Cambodia, there was a day when I hit the wall, ran out of energy & was entirely exhausted, but I didn’t have the luxury to take off a day to rest & rejuvenate, so what to do?
Rather than looking at the entire day for energy, I felt the Holy Spirit coach me to nestle into His presence in smaller increments. In this way, I found strength for one hour at a time. Indeed, not only did I find the energy I needed in smaller bite sized, but there were a few things that were unexpectedly eliminated from the day – go figure 🙂
We can lean into the Holy Spirit for strength, comfort & wisdom for each step, not just for the long journey!

Setbacks

As much as I’d like to avoid or prevent setbacks, they happen. Sometimes we have setbacks with our kids, in relationships, health challenges, work or school stuff & many other areas. The setbacks can be big, medium or minor, but no setback is something we relish, usually. So what to do?
Here are some thoughts that can help:

  • Opposition can create resilience – there’s lots to be said in favor of persistence, determination & tenacity. 
  • Course correction – sometimes a setback can help us reevaluate our path & we sometimes see a shortcut or a more efficient route
  • Building faith – some setbacks put us in a place of utter dependence on God & that isn’t bad, even though this can make us feel uncomfortable. 
  • Nothing is impossible – God specializes in impossible so let’s always keep our confidence & focus on the Holy Spirit who can do supernatural & amazing things!

Travel Advice


This summer, it seems like people are traveling more than usual – by airplane, car, train, bike, etc. While I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert traveler, I’ve had enough mistakes & mishaps to give advice from what a person shouldn’t do 🙂
Consider a few helpful tips:

  • Know where you’re going, or at least get the general direction clear – this relates to setting goals & achieving things as well
  • Patience & flexibility – enjoy the journey rather than bite your nails, you could likely have some fun experiences & meet some awesome peeps 
  • Rest – Jesus napped on the boats when He traveled, so it seems wise to grab some winks along the way
  • Pay attention – listen & watch for the Holy Spirit because traveling can be an incredible opportunity to get closer to Heavenly Help

Enjoy some travel this summer!

Hot Topic: The Downsides to Upsides

“Play to your strengths!” When I played basketball, I wasn’t very fast & I couldn’t jump high. So my coaches encouraged me to play to my strengths – I was kind of smart & I could make some good passes. This advice of playing to my strengths always seemed like sound wisdom. But there’s a weakness in this advice. Hidden in our strengths, we can often find our weaknesses as well. For example, I have a child who is very persistent & has tremendous endurance. The downside is that this child can also be stubborn. Here’s another example, I’m an extremely independent person & this strength can easily turn into a weakness when I isolate myself from help or healthy relationships. A few other strengths / weaknesses that might fit into your DNA could be:

  • Disciplined – inflexible
  • Smart – arrogant
  • Insightful – critical
  • Adaptable – uncommitted
  • Humble – insecure

Let’s give the Holy Spirit the freedom to manage the strengths we have so they don’t become debilitating weaknesses 🙂

Hot Topic: The Downsides to Upsides

“Play go your strengths!” When I played basketball, I wasn’t very fast & I couldn’t jump high. So my coaches encouraged me to play to my strengths – I was kind of smart & I could make some good passes. This advice of playing to my strengths always seemed like sound wisdom. But there’s a weakness in this advice. Hidden in our strengths, we can often find our weaknesses as well. For example, I have a child who is very persistent & has tremendous endurance. The downside is that this child can also be stubborn. Here’s another example, I’m an extremely independent person & this strength can easily turn into a weakness when I isolate myself from help or healthy relationships. A few other strengths / weaknesses that might fit into your DNA could be:

  • Disciplined – inflexible
  • Smart – arrogant
  • Insightful – critical
  • Adaptable – uncommitted
  • Humble – insecure

Let’s give the Holy Spirit the freedom to manage the strengths we have so they don’t become debilitating weaknesses 🙂

too smart

I used to think it was impossible to be too smart.  Now I don’t think this for a few reasons:

  • I’ve met people who think they’re “the smartest person in the room” and more often than not, such people are neither personable nor pleasant, despite being so smart
  • people often get smart in a particular field / topic at the expense of being “smart” in other areas, thereby creating imbalance, which is not so bueno:  think Steve Jobs
  • being smart isn’t always the same as being wise

When we think about being smart, let’s keep the mindset that empowers us to always be learning and growing.  Let’s posture our intelligence in humility and service more than superiority and supremacy.  And let’s continuously acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Wisdom, a dramatic upgrade to just being smart 🙂

Lessons in Resting

Springtime always seems to ramp up the activity level.  There’s fresh air outside that’s not too cold, the trees bloom with fragrant life, the hibernation of winter dissipates and of course there are all of the activities that go with school, Easter, graduations, weddings, showers, etc.

More often than not, Springtime wears me out with the hustle and bustle of demanding activities.  So this Sping, I’m endeavoring to strike a better balance, integrating some rest into the mix.  Here are some ideas that might help you with finding rest in a busy Spring:

  • be careful not to fall in the “value in achievement” trap – you’re valuable because God loves you, full stop
  • consider Spring cleaning your calendar / schedule and not just your house
  • be sure the way you use your time accurately reflects your priorities
  • don’t ditch church 🙂

Of course I’m always keen to recommend reading a good book as a form of relaxing & a great book to read in preparation for Pentecost in a few weeks is Heavenly Help